When Good Omens originally aired in 2019, it was met with enthusiasm. It not only adapted Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel of the same name, but it also starred Michael Sheen and David Tennant as a charming angel and demon combo. The series had all the markings of a Neil Gaiman production and captured the spirit of the novel.
Gaiman, who acted as the season’s showrunner, authored all six episodes of the first season, and his fingerprints were all over it. From the sharp dialogue to the sardonic humor, TV audiences fell in love with it, just as readers did with the original novel.
Given its rousing popularity, it seemed certain that we’d receive a second season, even if it meant deviating from the original plot. But one thing was on my mind, and probably on the thoughts of many others: would a Season 2 match up to the magnificence of Season 1? No, it does not, in a nutshell. While Season 2 of Good Omens returns the two characters that grabbed everyone’s hearts — Sheen’s angel Aziraphale and Tennant’s demon Crowley – the location and backdrop of their return lack the force and luster of the previous season.
Season 2’s problem is that there is no genuine plot. There are various subplots, including one featuring the angel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) and another involving the demon Shax (Miranda Richardson), but the overarching theme of Season 2 appears to be “here’s Crowley and Aziraphale again.” The show doesn’t even bring back Jack Whitehall’s Newton Pulsifer and Adria Arjona’s Anathema Device, despite the fact that the first season closed with the revelation that Anathema’s clairvoyant ancestor had more “nice and accurate” forecasts.
For those who follow the program just for the intense chemistry between Sheen and Tennant, this will suffice. The two performers have even starred in their own comedy series, Staged, set during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, proving that Good Omens has struck gold. However, when viewed through a critical lens, this series appears self-indulgent — and at times, even lazy.
It’s unclear where the season went wrong, and having only watched the first five episodes and not the finale, I can’t say whether or not the season was adequately wound up. While the episodes are still directed by Douglas Mackinnon, who directed the whole first season, the show is now co-written by Gaiman and John Finnemore. Finnemore, who is both a comedian and an actor, should not take the majority of the criticism for the season’s lack of focus.
For years, Gaiman and Pratchett have discussed making a Good Omens film. Gaiman had prepared to abandon the project after Pratchett’s death until he got a letter from Pratchett imploring him to continue. It’s plausible to assume that Pratchett had as big of an effect on the series as Gaiman did. Finnemore and Gaiman clearly do not share the same magical recipe.
Regardless of the series’ storyline criticisms, Sheen and Tennant are enormously entertaining as Aziraphale and Crowley. We witness more of the two protagonists grappling with their inner demons (or, in Crowley’s case, his inner angels) as they consider what it means to be on the good or bad side. This is something Gaiman has always excelled at bringing out the hypocrisy in black and whites, and the two performers run with it.
For those wanting further proof that Aziraphale and Crowley are soulmates, the new season doesn’t hold back – and Gaiman himself has acknowledged that they are a love tale. More crazy clothing, memories, and circumstances show how these two characters have evolved throughout the millennia they’ve known each other. In this manner, even if Season 2 feels like a show made for fans, they get that piece right.
This season delves further into the connection between Aziraphale and Crowley. Perhaps if it focused just on that, leaving out some of the more weird tales — such as a zombie narrative — there might be a bit more continuity. For me, the last episode won’t change my mind about Good Omens’ newest season, but stranger things have occurred. What remains true is that strong chemistry may shine through even when writing and plot development stumble.